'Jaws' producer David Brown dies

Credits also include 'The Sting,' 'Chocolat'

David Brown, who in partnership with Richard D. Zanuck produced some of the most memorable films of the last quarter of the 20th century, including "Jaws," "The Sting," "The Verdict" and "Cocoon," has died. He was 93.

A revered producer and motion picture executive, Brown died Monday at his Manhattan home following a long illness, according to the Hearst Corp., which owns Cosmopolitan.

As a producer, he was nominated for the best picture Oscar for "Jaws" (1975), "The Verdict" (1982), "A Few Good Men" (1992) and "Chocolat" (2000).

Brown brought Elvis Presley to the big screen for the first time in "Love Me Tender" (1956) and was credited with talking George C. Scott into playing the title character in "Patton" (1970), according to Hearst. Other producing credits include "The Player" (1992), "The Saint" (1997), "Deep Impact" (1998), "Kiss the Girls" (1997) and "Angela's Ashes" (1999).

Brown and Zanuck produced Steven Spielberg's first feature, "The Sugarland Express" (1974), and Brown executive produced "Driving Miss Daisy," the 1989 Oscar best picture winner.

In 1991, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences awarded Brown and Zanuck the Irving G. Thalberg Award. The duo also received the David O. Selznick Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993 from the Producers Guild of America.

Before becoming one of Hollywood's top movie executives and producers, Brown excelled as an editor and writer, with turns as a journalist, author and magazine editor. His books include "Brown's Guide to Growing Gray" and the memoirs "Let Me Entertain You" and "The Rest of Your Life Is the Best of Your Life." He contributed to the New Yorker magazine and wrote comedy with Eddie Cantor.

Brown's Broadway producing credits include 1989's "Tru" and "A Few Good Men," 1990's "The Cemetery Club" and two Tony-nominated musicals based on movies, 2002's "The Sweet Smell of Success" and 2005's "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels." In London, he produced "Vanilla."

His TV credits include "Women & Men" and "A Season in Purgatory."

Brown was born July 28, 1916, in New York and graduated from Stanford. He earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia. After stints as a copy editor at the San Francisco News and Wall Street Journal, Brown became assistant drama critic and night editor at Women's Wear Daily.

In 1939, he joined Street and Smith Publications as associate editor. The following year, he was promoted to executive editor, a post he held for three years before being named editor in chief of Liberty Magazine. From 1949-52, Brown was managing editor of Cosmopolitan.

It was at Cosmo that he met his future wife, Helen Gurley Brown, whom he encouraged to write the groundbreaking 1962 book "Sex and the Single Girl" that led to her fabled career at Cosmo.

David Brown was credited with writing some of the formerly staid magazine's sizzling cover lines during his wife's 32 years at the helm: "The startling truth about sex addicts." "How to be very good in bed." "The terrible danger of a perfect sex partner."

In 1952, Darryl F. Zanuck -- the mogul who reigned over Fox from the 1930s and Richard's father -- set out to get "the best editor in New York" to head the creative operations of 20th Century Fox. He chose Brown, who began as the managing editor of the studio story department. In 1956, Brown was elected to executive story editor. It also was during these years that he established the relationship with Richard Zanuck, who was the studio's production chief.

Brown left Fox in 1964 to become editorial vp of the New American Library of World Literature but returned a year later. He was elected to the board of directors in 1969. When Richard Zanuck assumed the presidency of Fox, he appointed Brown executive vp in charge of creative affairs.

Under pressure from the board of directors, Darryl Zanuck fired his son in 1970 in an effort to save his own job, but the maneuver failed, and he soon followed him out the door. Brown lost his job as well and recalled it as the lowest point of his career.

"We were fired from Fox and had to dictate from the back of our cars because they wouldn't let us in our offices," Brown said in a 2006 interview with the AP.

But they weren't down for long. The pair formed Zanuck-Brown Prods., which helped produce "The Sting" in 1973, "Sugarland Express" and the Spielberg blockbuster "Jaws" in 1975.

In addition to his film career, Brown was a much sought-after lecturer, speaking at several leading universities. His perspective was erudite and funny: "Celebrities of today pale a bit in comparison with someone like Harry Houdini, who was able to become world-famous without ... television," he told the Los Angeles Times. Consistent with his lively sense of humor and his various windows on show business, Brown wrote comedy material for all media.

Brown also held top public relations posts, including editorial director on the American Medical Assn.'s National Educational campaign.

He and Helen Gurley Brown had been married since 1959.

A public funeral was scheduled for Thursday at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel in Manhattan.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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